The city of Guangzhou in China is trialling the use of official digital ID cards through WeChat, China’s most popular chat app.

Citizens will be able to use their WeChat ID cards for accessing government services and other services, such as buying tickets and booking hotel rooms, TechNode reported. This is part of efforts to prevent online identity forgery, the report said.

The level of authentication needed varies depending on how the digital ID cards are being used – a greater level of authentication would be needed for business registration, for example.

The Ministry of Public Security worked with WeChat to develop the ID programme. Following the trial in Guangdong province, this project will be expanded to the rest of the country this month, the report said.

Guangzhou is experimenting with using the popular app in other public services, such as to allow citizens to access judiciary filings and case information, according to the report.

The city has also made payments more efficient by working with WeChat. Since 2015, citizens have been able to use WeChat Pay to pay for their metro fares instead of using cash or cards.

WeChat Pay is massively popular in China, where it is used to transfer funds to contacts on the chat app or make online purchases with registered vendors. “If I want to send some money, I can very quickly transfer. Five seconds is enough,” Cai Chaolin, the Vice Mayor of Guangzhou, told GovInsider.

Image by xiquinhosilvaCC BY 2.0